Do I Need to Hire a Probate Attorney in St. Louis?

Have you recently had a loved one pass away? Are you struggling with navigating the complicated world of estate planning or probate?

You should consider hiring a probate lawyer to help out.

Let's go through your options when it comes to hiring a probate attorney in St. Louis.

Understanding the Will or Estate Plan Problem

Did you know that 55% of Americans die without having any estate plan or a will in place? Without a Trust, or designated beneficiaries for your assets, the estate will have to go through probate, even if you have a will.  The primary difference between a will and no will is the probate court will either follow the directions in your will, or in the case of no will, the laws of intestate succession. An estate planning lawyer can help you protect your assets before you pass away, avoiding probate, or a probate lawyer can assist after a loved one has passed away without an estate plan, helping you figure out how to navigate the difficult process of settling their estate.

Why Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?

There are lots of different estate issues that a probate lawyer can help you navigate.

If your loved one passed away with outstanding debts, a probate lawyer can help you make sure that their debts are settled. Americans are passing away with an average of $62,000 in debt, and around 73% are passing away with at least some debt, so it's a really important part of the probate process.

The lawyer can figure out what assets and what real estate goes to each possible beneficiary. A probate lawyer can also help you claim your loved one’s life insurance policies.

Additionally, a probate lawyer is very useful for figuring out any issues you may have at probate court in St. Louis, which is a complex and involved process. A lawyer can help you fill out the necessary paperwork correctly to hopefully avoid any problems.

What To Know When Hiring a Probate Lawyer

There is information that is helpful to know when you're thinking about hiring an estate lawyer. This information will help you decide whether or not you need a probate lawyer and will help your lawyer better assess your needs.

First, you'll need to know the approximate value of the estate, so your lawyer will know how to proceed. Up to $40,000 in net estate assets, you can utilize an affidavit of small estate for most matters – that is a faster and more affordable process.  Over $40,000 a full estate is required. Under $15,000 you will likely not need to publish any notices and that may factor in if there are any tax or debt issues that need to be addressed.

Medicaid is notified in any size estate, so knowing before filing with the probate court whether the individual who passed away received Medicaid benefits (not Medicare) may avoid unnecessary expenses.

Depending on the extent of the estate, where the individual in charge of the estate resides and the wording in a will, if there is a will, generally determines whether the probate court will require a bond.  The person in charge of the estate will also need sufficient credit to qualify for a bond.

Also, extremely helpful to know is whether to expect any family disputes concerning the disbursement of the estate. Estate management and money generally can bring up a lot of personal and family issues, so it's helpful to anticipate these issues.

Finally, if the only asset is real estate, and someone passed away over a year ago, there may be a process to avoid the probate court.

Once you have this information, you'll be able to decide whether or not you need a probate lawyer and find the best probate lawyer for your needs.  These matters are more cost effective if discussed and determined up front. 

Do I Need a Probate Attorney in St. Louis? It's Up to You

Clearly, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you think you need a probate attorney, it's likely that you do. Probate is much too involved to work out alone and the probate court may not allow you to file documents on your own.

Are you looking to hire a probate attorney in St. Louis? Contact us at TdD Attorneys at Law today. Ted Disabato can give you the professional guidance you need to successfully and efficiently get through probate.


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